Tony Iommi (1948-present): a Musician from Birmingham, UK.
nthony Frank Iommi (born 19 February 1948) is an English guitarist, songwriter, and producer born in Birmingham, the only child of Sylvia Maria (née Valenti, born in Palermo) Iommi and Anthony Frank Iommi. Sylvia's family were formerly vineyard owners in Italy before relocating to the UK. He was lead guitarist, co-founder and leader of heavy metal band Black Sabbath, and was the band's primary composer and sole continuous member for some 50 years, becoming ranked number 25 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
At about age 10, Iommi began working out and learned judo, karate, and later boxing as a means of protecting himself from the local gangs which congregated in his neighbourhood; envisioning a future as a bouncer in a nightclub.
Musically, Iommi initially wanted to play drums, but due to the excessive noise he chose the guitar instead, after being inspired by the likes of Hank Marvin and the Shadows. After completing school, Iommi worked briefly as a plumber and later in a factory manufacturing rings where he lost the tips of the middle and ring fingers of his left hand in an accident, an event which crucially impacted his playing style. Despite his handicap he ultimately decided to continue playing left-handed; he was a left-handed player to begin with. To do so, he fitted homemade thimbles to his injured fingers to extend and protect them; the thimbles were made from an old Fairy Liquid bottle. He stated that at one point he worked in a music store, but quit after being falsely accused of stealing.
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Iommi has played in several blues/rock bands, one of the earliest of which was the Rockin' Chevrolets from 1964 to 1965.
From January until July 1968 Iommi was guitarist in Mythology, with Ward joining a month later in mid-February. In May 1968 police raided the group's practice flat and found cannabis resin, which resulted in fines for the band members. Most significantly, the incident made it almost impossible for the band to secure future bookings as most club owners avoided bands they viewed as drug users; the act soon after split.
In August 1968 at the same time as the break-up of Mythology, another Birmingham band, Rare Breed, also split. Vocalist Ozzy Osbourne joined with Iommi and Ward after the pair responded to an ad in a local music shop proclaiming "Ozzy Zig Requires Gig - has own PA". in need of a bass player, Osbourne suggested his former Rare Breed bandmate Geezer Butler, who was subsequently hired along with slide guitarist Jimmy Phillips and saxophonist Alan "Aker" Clarke. The six-piece named themselves the Polka Tulk Blues Band. After just two gigs, Phillips and Clarke were dismissed from the band, which soon after shortened its name to Polka Tulk.
Iommi, Butler, Ward, and Osbourne renamed the band Earth in September 1968. That same month Iommi briefly departed to join Jethro Tull, however, after only two performances he would return.
In August 1969, after being confused with another group named Earth they renamed themselves Black Sabbath. His previous factory accident influenced the Black Sabbath sound when Iommi detuned his guitar for 1971's Master of Reality album, lowering string tension and easing the pain to his fingertips. The rest, as they say, is history.
In October 2006 Iommi would tour with Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward again, but under the name Heaven & Hell.
As a soloist he would release Iommi (2000), The 1996 DEP Sessions (2004) and Fused (2005).
In 2011, he published his autobiography, entitled Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath.
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Iommi onstage with Heaven & Hell in 2009
Photo by: Adam Bielawski
CC BY-SA 3.0
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